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South Pole ski: Iceland's Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir at the Pole

Posted: Jan 18, 2013 01:19 am EST

(Newsdesk) Vilborg arrived at the South Pole on January 17th, 101 years after Robert Scott and his team, and 60 days after she has started out from Hercules Inlet (80°S). She became the first person from Iceland, man or woman, to ski a full route from the coast to the South Pole.

In 1995-96 Ólafur Örn Haraldson, his son Haraldur Örn Ólafson, and Ingthor Bjarnason skied to the South Pole starting from Patriot Hills, an inland position 1084 km from the Pole.

Vilborg's game plan was to cover the 1130 km from this coastal point in 50 days, solo, without outside assistance. She got advice to take extra 10 days of food though, ExplorersWeb was told. Vilborg didn't cover the miles per day she had intended to do and received her extra food and fuel supply on January 6th. With the resupply she lost her solo status.

Nearing the South Pole with 48 km to go on Day 76, is Aaron calculating his food, which is getting low. Richard Parks in 87°S (250km to go) took stock of his food on Day 31 and says after the last few days making less progress than he would have liked, he have taken the decision to ration his food.

Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir - Hercules Inlet start

January 16th: Distance skied 19.2 km.
Vilborg reported a day with good weather. Just before she stopped for the day she got a good view of the South Pole Station. "What an amazing feeling!" she says in her blog. She says with only one night left she is full of energy and joy and feels "healthy inside".

"This is the last night in the tent before I finish. So it's hard to describe the excitement and happiness in the Hilleberg tent."

January 17th: Vilborg wrote a short message on her blog after arriving at the Pole, "The feeling is amazing as the long-awaited milestone is reached. I have yet to realize it."

Aaron Linsdau - Hercules Inlet start

January 16th: Day 75, 8.3 nm / 15.4 km in 9 hours.
Distance to the Pole 34 nautical miles / 63 kilometers.

Aaron explains that the use of the compass near the Pole is quite challenging, "cause the needle floats around everywhere and with the shaking of the compass it develops a massive bubble, I actually spend quite a lot of time trying to pin point navigate." He also says there are not many features in the snow he can use to navigate with.

The battle with his goggles fogging up continues and he says he can't find a solution to prevent it. He also does not have a solution for his woolen boot liners that get wet. "As long as I can keep punching 8 plus miles a day, I don't know if I want to mess with anything, try anything cause the more I fool with it the worse things get."

Aaron adds that ANI is breaking up camp at the South Pole and he is running fairly tight on food, "as long as I get to the Pole in 4 days I've got 2 or 3 days of food left so talk about cutting it to the absolute wire. I've only got 2 liters of fuel left, so they're [ANI] gonna leave me 6 days of food, a gallon of fuel; so if terrible weather descends and they can't come in and eventually pluck me out, I won't starve and dehydrate to death."

He says he has still 34 miles to go, "For any other activity, running, jogging, biking, anything, backpacking, 34 is nothing but on skis towing sleds it is still 4 days, it's just blows my mind. But that's ok I'm keeping the mantra of just gotta hang for 4 more days and then I get to just lay around and fricken sleep, I'm so toast. Wake up at 3am thrash around, I just can't get back to sleep, it's kickin my butt. Also being short on butter or actually having no butter, uh yea enjoying some serious bonking but I've got some food for it stashed, couple cookies and what not so I'm gonna start nibbing into them just to take the edge off."

January 17th: Day 76. 8.3 miles in 9 hours. Distance to the Pole, 26 nautical miles / 48 km.

A "super nice day" for pulling his sled, reports Aaron; overcast and no wind.

He didn't get much sleep for the past 5, 6 days and repeats, "I just want sleep, I just want sleep." He says he feels pretty much "dead on his feet" because of hunger. Today he changed his goggles for his glasses and kept taping his face as protection from the sun and wind.

Aaron says he hears the visitor Center at the South Pole has already closed. He hopes anybody out there can help to get the SP people to open it for him to stamp his passport and buy something.

Position: S89° 33.835', W075°53.430'

Richard Parks - Hercules Inlet start

Day 31, January 17th morning report: Skied for 9½ hours and covered 23.8km/14 miles.

The wind dropped on the 16th, so packing the tent was comfortable, Richard reported "But I am still fighting for every metre. It’s just really demoralising because of the sastrugi. It’s just so constant, sometimes they are big and I have to ski up and down them, sometimes I ski around them. My course is almost perpendicular to them now, even the little ones are challenging, and constantly pulling my pulk through them is savage."

He covered 23.8km/14 miles and says by his own standards that was a good day "and last night I should have got in the tent really proud and satisfied but my morale is generally low. I get in to the tent and all I can see is another 100km of sh*t. I know this is not the way I should be thinking. I have nobody to bounce off which is really tough, on a normal expedition someone will pick you up, on your own it’s easy for some things to spiral…but getting in to my bag cheered me up."

After calculating his food and the speed he is traveling Richard made up 2 extra days worth of food. "I opened up packets of food taking spoonfuls to make new meals, luckily I had enough similar meals to be able to do this and I chopped flapjacks up to make an extra couple of bars."

He wrote although he is still in crevasse territory he is around the west safety marker for the crevasses. "Although there are some around me and ahead of me I am past the closest ones to my route."

The morning of the 17th he reported a complete white-out outside. "It’ll be me in my white box again today but the way I am feeling, a white padded room is probably the safest thing for me right now!"

The Antarctic ski season closes in 10 days with the last Ilyushin-76 flight from Punta Arenas to Union Glacier scheduled for January 27th (weather permitting) when the last skiers, climbers, cargo, waste and staff will be flown out to Chile by this large cargo plane.

The Hercules Inlet route starts at 80°S and covers a distance of 1130 km in a straight line to the Geographic South Pole at 90°S.
The start point at the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner route) covers a distance of 890 km in a straight line to the Geographic South Pole at 90°S.

1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km
1 nm = 1.151 miles
1 knot = 1.852 km/h
1 degree of Latitude is 110 km / 60 nm / 70 miles
Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet
A nunatak is a top of a mountain visible above the snow surface.

South Pole of Inaccessibility 2011-12 position:
S82°06.696, E055°01.951
Geographic South Pole: 90 degrees South

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa:
To ALCI base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo
(70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E).
Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:
To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier
(79° 45'S, 083° 14'W).
Gateway port Christchurch, New Zealand:
To USA science station McMurdo, and other
(77°50'39"S, 166°40'22"E)

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In the image, Vilborg during another expedition.
courtesy Vilborg Arna Gissurardottir, SOURCE